If ever the stars were in alignment it must have been my pregnancy and delivery with Erin. I was confident that I knew what I wanted. I was going to have a midwife and I was going to have in addition to my Love someone who could come to our home and monitor my labor to let us know when to go to the hospital. I wasn't going to go early like I did with my first labor.
I got pregnant within the first month and did a home pregnancy test in the second month. With the good tidings of a baby on the way I went out and bought an armload of pregnancy books with these two being my favorite reads, "A Good Birth, A Safe Birth" and "Spiritual Midwifery". Reading both enlightened my unknowing eyes to having a birth my way!
While the idea of having a home birth was in my peripheral vision, I wasn't sure if I was ready to take the leap. I had tried the ABC (Alternative Birth Unit) unit when I had Kristin but I ended up in L & D for her birth. I did like the ABC unit as they left us alone to labor. And when I say alone, I mean they hardly peeked in the room. They could have been more helpful to a first time mommy and daddy to be in labor. I think in my head I wasn't quite ready to commit to a home birth so the idea of a midwife in a hospital setting felt more along the lines of my mindset.
In Oakland I found a freestanding, progressive thinking group of people that offered classes as well as a wealth of information on doctors, hospitals, and midwives. It was called Birthways. I went there, pulled down a binder about midwives in the Bay Area and found the mana for my pregnancy; stories of birth. I could have sat there for days but I sat there for several hours and selected the names of several midwives to ponder over and to call. The one I choose was Carole Hagin. It was the birth stories of her being the midwife for other mommy's to be that had me dialing her number and making that first appointment. Every one loved her and spoke highly of her care.
She was everything that I didn't have with my first pregnancy. I learned more about my body with her than I ever could imagine. I learned how to test my own urine at each visit, do my own weight and chart it. I felt actively involved in this pregnancy which empowered my confidence when the time would come to give birth. I wasn't just a pregnant mom in a waiting room waiting for a doctor to tell me what the drill would be.
Carol's office was with a OB though I only saw him once during my pregancy, more like a meet and greet as he would be the standing doctor if I needed one. Since having midwives at the hospital I was to deliver at was so new, he would also be required to attend the delivery. He seemed like this whole midwife thing was okay and I liked that about him. It felt trusting as well as comfortable.
My pregnancy was easy even if I did have morning sickness for a couple of months. I began taking a prenatal yoga class which let me bring Kristin and was a delightful time as we all get bigger and rounder with our bellies.
When I was around 34 weeks I started seeing a different midwife (there were several in the office), Peggy Vincent, who also taught childbirth classes, of which we had signed up for. With Kristin we did Lamaze and I detested it swearing that while it helped, all that crazy breathing didn't feel natural. Peggy's class was a hit for my Love and I. We had a great group of parents who attended the classes and I could feel the bond we were creating. The classes were held in a woodsy house in Berkeley, with soft pillows, a tea break and our ever animated Peggy guiding us along week after week.
We also found out about two nurses who had started a business call "Labor of Love". One or the other would come to our home, monitor my labor as well as be an additional labor coach. I didn't want to go to the hospital till I was well along. We found a photographer who would take birth photos too. All was falling into place for the birth in May.
Looking back it was a good time to have a baby. Everyone seemed against having drugs at birth, C-sections were low, and on the whole women were proactive in how they wanted their birth to be. It was the time of the Leboyer bath for the newborn baby, breastfeeding was in (and uncovered!), it was about having a supportive birth and a healthy baby without intervention of epidurals or other potential labor slowing drugs. It was a time of walking, squatting, hands and knees in labor, hands on touching, massaging, soft voices, birth as a normal, natural process of life. Where the rite of passage to womanhood was felt in pain, laughter, tears, and joy. Where a father could witness a birth, help in a birth, be there just as he should be. It was giving birth without feeling it was a medical problem. It was giving life and creating a family bond.